As this holiday season approaches we are all reminded that this year is closing and a new year is beginning. I am a dreamer. I want to succeed at my career. I want to help as many people as I can. I want to be the best father. I want to be an amazing husband. I have a bucket list. I'm ambitious (I got through the whole season of Stranger Things in a week)...so I need to prioritize.
What makes it hard to prioritize is all of the decisions I have to make throughout my day. Who do I text back? Who needs me more right now? How do I help my kids? Who do I move to next week because I overbooked my week this week?
My iPhone has a 1000's of songs. My TV has hundreds of channels. My job has many decisions I have to make on a daily basis. My family has a lot of spontaneous dance parties and someone has to make the "ultimate playlist" ("Drake Making a Pizza" is my latest).
A "chosen generation" must master the art of "choosing God" in the midst of living in a culture where the choice to do so much (stream an album, download a podcast, FaceTime a friend, answer a text, like an instagram, etc) is constantly bombarding #thenewyoungchristian. What you chose to do each day determines what you prioritize each day.
SOME CRITICAL PRIORITIES TO START THIS WEEK FOR THE NEW YOUNG CHRISTIAN:
1. Learn contentment in everything
There is always a draw towards bigger and better. The challenge will be being content with who God made you to be and where God has placed you (Philippians 4:12-13). Comparison kills contentment. Plain and simple. So stop comparing yourself, your calling and your successes to everyone else. The reality is your one "yes" to God means that everyone else was a no accept you... God chose you. That makes your life trajectory different than your bro down the street, different than the church down the coast, different than the leader across the ocean, etc. Your obedience will look different than everyone else but the blessing is guaranteed. If you're going to compare yourself to another person...then compare yourself to Jesus. Obedience is the "spiritual force" that makes you into His likeness.
“Your obedience will look different than everyone else but the blessing is guaranteed.”
2. Move past your disappointment
You have probably figured out that once you accept Christ, your life doesn't magically get easier. In fact, you're not alone in seeing that life seems to get more difficult and messier. You will have setbacks in life as a Christian. People will disappoint you. As a leader and influencer, you will have critics that will show up in your life. It will be easy at times to isolate yourself, wall yourself up, shut down or give up on your faith. Not only that, you won't understand "why God is allowing this" throughout your life. A thriving spiritual life is not found in isolation. You are not defined but what they have done to you but what Jesus has done for you.
I can guarantee this: you won't fully understand the big picture...but rest assured there is one. There is a greater vision at work that you can't see That's why you have to write that vision down, simplify it and run hard and fast with it (Habakkuk 2:2). Keep the vision of your calling from God in mind and push forward, regardless of the obstacles which come your way.
“A thriving spiritual life is not found in isolation. You are not defined but what they have done to you but what Jesus has done for you. ”
3. Seek wisdom first
If you haven't read proverbs in a while read it. The wisest man who ever lived talks about how wisdom is the priority of his pursuit. Even the the Psalms say "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10; Psalms 111:10). Wisdom isn't just reading the Bible. It is memorizing Scriptures. Scriptures that aren't used as "Biblical Bumper Stickers" you slap on a situation but when the Word of God becomes embedded into who you are, into your relationship, your situations and your life. Wisdom is pursuing relationships in your life who have gone farther, built bigger or lived longer. Wisdom is not being right in every situation but doing right thing in every situation. Blessed are the peacemakers...so pursue peace and be the wisest in your organization.
4. Be faithful...starting now
The "next" will always call out for you. Especially if you are talented, gifted or have a platform that gets recognition. In our culture we have a tendency to overvalue "15 minutes of fame" and undervalue faithfulness. We curate 140 characters on twitter but don't cultivate character in our relationships. Faithfulness is an attritbute of God. Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. Opportunities are everywhere. Success is valued but can be misleading. Succeeding at the wrong thing could be your biggest failure. That's why it's important to steward your "now" well because it is training and shaping for your "next." Don't take shortcuts. Shortcuts "cut short" the work of God on your life. Grow where you're planted. Become grounded and develop a root system. I was out to dinner with a great friend this weekend and we were talking about the unseen parts of our lives are so critical and rarely celebrated. We don't celebrate the prayer lives of others, we don't instagram our "dad diaper changes" so mom can take a few minutes breather, we don't periscope our devo lives consistently to show the world we know how to seek God, etc. What's underground isn't as celebrated as what's on our platform. The reality is roots precede fruits. To bear great fruits you need great roots. Stay grounded and focused and watch God bring your future to life.
“The reality is roots precede fruits. To bear great fruits you need great roots. ”
5. Ground your theology in Jesus
There are many out there who will be happy to shape your theology for you. There is a lot of spiritual content on the internet (how did that "blood moon" turn out for you?). I’m not suggesting you stop growing in knowledge — in the “deeper” things of God. You should always be growing. I am suggesting you never get beyond the simple child-like, overwhelming awe of who Jesus is and how He loves you and what He did for you on the cross. Center your beliefs firmly and completely around the person of Jesus Christ. Discipline your life to do as Jesus would do. Invite others to follow you as you follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Let the grace, truth, love and hope of Jesus guide you in all you do and your life will have a beautiful simplicity to it.
6. Invest in someone else
Making disciples is the mission of Jesus He gave. There is a relational difference between teaching a crowd on the weekend, having a Bible study in a community group and spending quality time with a few people. Jesus model of living involved crowds, community and core. Jesus thought being devoted to a few was time well spent to make a global impact that would last generations. Who are you spending time with? Who are you mentoring? Not only that....but who is mentoring you? It's not only beneficial for them but you will have a group of people who you can count on to pray for you, encourage you and inspire you. Also...be teachable. Fatherlessness surrounds so many of us. Not just paternal but spiritual fatherlessness. Could the reason we lack "spiritual fathers" is we don't know how to be teachable sons and daughters...so we live as orphans making same mistakes over and over again. Resulting in lessons not learned and a generation of broken people trying to find health but never truly finding it. Invest in others but also allow others to invest in you.
“Could the reason we lack ‘spiritual fathers’ is we don’t know how to be teachable sons and daughters...so we live as orphans making the same mistakes over and over again.”
Are their any priorities I'm missing?